Family Run

How One Husband And Wife Expanded Their Familial Relationship To A Successful Business Partnership

"Just like with the commitment to our marriage, we know that we are in this together."

Family Run is an original A Plus Lifestyle series: Every month, we profile amazing families who work together in some capacity. From starting businesses, inventing products, collaborating artistically, and beyond, these family members are making positive contributions to the world together, and strengthening their family bonds in the process.

When it comes to family-run businesses, we aim to highlight those families who share a love for each other and entrepreneurship, but also work to better the world through their business; whether that's ensuring their company is ethically run and producing safe, eco-friendly products, employing people with intellectual disabilities, or is promoting cultural diversity. This month we are spotlighting CHOOZE, a family-run lifestyle brand  with a mission to "empower kids with creativity, confidence, and their power to have a positive impact on the world." 

To learn more about how CHOOZE came to be, we spoke with founder Sharon Blumberg, who has been running the company with her husband, Marc, since 2011.

Marc and Sharon Blumberg 
Marc and Sharon Blumberg  Courtesy of Sharon Blumberg

A mother of three, Sharon has always been interested in finding new and meaningful ways to foster a child's creativity. Early in her career she worked as a children's room muralist, but it wasn't until she noticed her daughter's penchant for unique wardrobe choices as a means of expression that she considered designing children's apparel and products herself. 

"... she would grab two different shoes and go about her day. She did it without the fear of failure or judgement, and she was so happy because of it. In time, I realized that the freedom to express ourselves is the key to unleash potential," Sharon says of her daughter on the CHOOZE website. 

Though Sharon hadn't considered working professionally with her husband before, the prospect of creating a lifestyle brand, catering to kids like their daughter, was inspiration enough to take the leap and expand their familial relationship to a business one. 

"My husband and I have always loved working on projects together, but we never imagined we would start a business together," Sharon tells A Plus. "When I first had the idea to start CHOOZE, he was president of an internet marketing agency and I was a part-time interior designer, while also raising our young kids." 

“Starting a business was the furthest thing on our minds! We were the type of people who were always thinking up ideas, and this was one we knew we had to do.”

As a Wharton School graduate who had run a business before, Marc had plenty of experience and knowledge to contribute to his wife's creative ideas. Their complementary skill set made the decision to run CHOOZE together a logical next step. But, of course, like any family members going into business together for the first time, there were some concerns to address. 

" … everyone advised against it! And I would be lying if I said we get along perfectly all the time. We have our disagreements and days when I want to run (actually random nights, when we are still discussing the business at midnight!), but we have such a strong relationship that we get over disagreements quickly. Just like with the commitment to our marriage, we know that we are in this together."

“Our passion and commitment for what we are doing is the glue that holds us together through the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship."

All the benefits of running a business together make the challenges worthwhile. The couple has fun brainstorming, analyzing, and creating, and Sharon says their respect for one another's talents means there is also an inherent understanding that each plays an equally valuable role in the business. Plus " … it's a big bonus when a quick business trip can turn into date night!" she adds. 

Sharon and Marc are not the only family members who have helped CHOOZE come into fruition. Their three children, ages 15, 13, and 10, have also provided invaluable insight into their product development, and have participated in other aspects, such as marketing, modeling, and working at trade shows. 

"We often see examples of how our hard work impacts the way they tackle their own projects — with grit, determination, and creativity."

The Blumberg family
The Blumberg family Courtesy of Sharon Blumberg

Together, the Blumbergs have created a work environment that feels like a family, as their mutual love and respect for each other translates into their interactions with their partners, employees, and customers. Sharon says that this "trust is the key to strengthening those bonds" and building those bonds. "… and there is nobody I trust more to support that trust than my husband and the close friends who have worked with us. " 

Out of this trust and love, a product meant to empower kids with creativity and confidence has been born. On the CHOOZE website, kids can select apparel, footwear, back-to-school products, and other accessories with creative mismatched designs that are different from left to right. These products — made with lightweight, washable, breathable, vegan materials — are meant to spark the imagination and "encourage kids to celebrate differences, to be open to new ideas and perspectives, and to be proud of who they are." Sharon adds, "We focus on providing products and opportunities for kids to fully express themselves and be creative in that expression. We celebrate kids who are using their unique talents to make a difference." 

But buying CHOOZEE products doesn't just inspire a kid to embrace themselves. It actually helps them make a positive impact on the world through tangible actions. 

"As part of our CHOOZE your CAUSE business model, our customers get to select a cause of their choice whenever they make a purchase on our website, and we donate a percentage of profits to that cause. The causes each effectively improve the lives of children in need." 

“Parents shop with their kids and share a teachable moment that empowers the kids to learn how they can help others. Each purchase makes a difference.”

Some of the suggested causes customers can contribute to include: helping provide birthday parties for children experiencing homelessness, promoting independence by providing service dogs for kids living with disabilities, giving new belongings and new hope to kids in crisis, building playgrounds in low-income neighborhoods, and providing toys and books for kids in hospitals. 

To conclude, Sharon offers her advice for others considering going into business with a family member. "My husband and I have learned a lot about how to best work with each other — a clear division of responsibilities along with respect for what we individually bring to the table are crucial. We each know what our strengths are and have clearly defined roles within the organization. We also know how important it is to have designated times for each other where work is not allowed in the conversation. And yoga. Lots of yoga to calm the mind!"

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